Should I Let My Kids Read Those Harry Potter Books?

A Review of the Harry Potter Series by a Skeptical Homeschooler
By , on April 10, 2017 - Book Reviews

Harry Potter Books Review

From one skeptical homeschooler to another, I never planned to read the Harry Potter books.

You know who you are. You’re reading this review because you never read the Harry Potter books—maybe never wanted to—but now your youngsters are curious about the famed young wizard in spectacles.

As the oldest of seven, I was semi-officially in charge of reviewing media for our family. If it had so much as a dirty word, we skipped it.

I’d heard rumors of Harry Potter’s witchcraft and black magic that encouraged young readers to look into the occult. Still, I resolved not to openly criticize them without first having read them—which I didn’t … until I was recently asked to preview them for a younger family member.

I picked up the first book with trepidation. I didn’t really want to flirt with the devil.

Surprise One: He's Nice

Harry Potter begins as a pleasant, humble character with no interest in magic.

Surprise Two: It's Silly

I found the book unexpectedly light-hearted, silly, whimsical, and full of puns. The “magic” is in the order of invisible cloaks and things like a “Remembrall” that tells its absent-minded owner he’s forgotten something.

I continued reading, holding my mental breath, expecting any moment to stumble upon a séance, ouija board, or cult gathering.

Surprise Three: the Witches Aren't So Witchy

The first book ended without any of that. While students are called “witches” and “wizards,” their spells are as silly as The Leg-Locker Curse, which glues together a person's legs.

Throughout the series, Harry Potter remains an exemplary character with many positive traits: refusal to kill enemies, kindness to opponents, faithfulness to friends.

Surprise Four: the Spells Aren't So Wicked

Book after book, the silly spells continue, from “extendable ears” for eavesdropping, to a “spell-checking quill” for homework. There's nothing that lends itself to needing the warning, "Don't try this at home."

I consulted a friend who’d read the series. She confirmed that, yes, the books do get darker as the series proceeds.

So I picked up book two, with mental shields up.

Surprise Five: the Darkness Isn't So Dark

Before I knew it, I’d finished the series, and was left scratching my head. Where was all the witchcraft?

The “darker” aspects seemed to consist mostly of more people dying, more typical sneering villains, and more painful curses (although even torture spells aren’t gratuitous). And when Harry Potter meets ghostlike figures of the deceased, most are far more Casper-like than demonic.

Surprise Six: Bible Verses

There are Biblical themes, references, and even directly quoted scripture in the last book.

Surprise Seven: Redemption and Love (Mild Spoiler Alert)

Although the final book deals with a character tampering with their own soul, the cure is for them to truly repent of their actions.

And finally, Harry Potter wins the day not with vengeance but with love.

My Surprising Conclusion: Where's the Black Magic?

Love? Redemption? I’d finished the series, but I was still waiting for the real-life black magic.

However, despite remaining critical to the last page, I found Harry Potter no more objectionable than Tolkien’s wizards or Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

I hold all respect for those who still disagree with me, but I found the books fun and mostly wholesome, with plenty of fictional “magic,” a humble hero, and redemptive themes.

Call me a traitor, but Harry Potter has won over a suspicious reader.

Soon-to-be Homeschool Mom

About Kelsey Gilbert

Kelsey Gilbert is a homeschool graduate from a class of seven siblings. A former newspaper reporter and community editor, she now works as a freelance writer and stay-at-home mama. She and her husband live near Colorado Springs with their three future homeschoolers.

6 Responses to “Should I Let My Kids Read Those Harry Potter Books?”

  1. Jamie Heston says:

    I knew many a Christian school and parent in my area who blanketly refused to allow their students/kids to read the series as well, ridiculously. To blanketly ban something with no thought put into it, without having investigated what the book ACTUALLY says, is shortsighted and, in a word, stupid.
    These are wonderful, creative, imaginative books that teach kids about love, loyalty, overcoming hardship and friendship.... as are the CS Lewis books, which also, by the way, have witches and spells, but because Aslan is representative of Jesus, are somehow ok to read!? Nonsensical!
    I invite parents to find out about such things first, before judging.

    • Kelsey Gilbert says:

      I agree. I think one of the things we need to teach our homeschooled children is not just to hide themselves from anything potentially bad, but to be critical thinkers, and to be able to exercise discernment about the world around them. A tricky balance...

  2. Kayla Burch says:

    I was actually homeschooled, saw this shared on Facebook and clicked because I had a pretty "traumatic" 'Arry Potter experience as a homeschooler.

    My parents didn't really care what I read to be honest, but we did participate in several co-ops. I made the mistake of bringing whatever Harry Potter book I had been reading in my backpack to the meeting. One kid spotted it and literally shrieked.

    I kid you not, shrieked. In a room full of people. I got verbally abused and was pretty much shunned for the next few weeks by a few kids. Luckily at least half were neutral or accepting of it.

    But seriously, years ago this was crazy "taboo," for no reason other than fear. I truly believe many people are too fearful of social judgment to actually examine anything for themselves. Luckily, there are plenty of homeschoolers that aren't this way. And, growing daily.

    • Kelsey Gilbert says:

      I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. While I respect people who hold a different opinion about the books, it's unfortunate that some people think it's ok to be cruel about it (and give homeschoolers a bad name)!

  3. Mike says:

    We read/watch Harry Potter. My son has read all the books. We also love Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Star Wars and other fantasy stories. Having a healthy imagination is not sinful. Using those particular story opportunities to create a healthy awareness between good and evil can be very instructive and useful. The lines are clearly drawn in the stories.

    Am I to say "don't read Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis" because it's about demons? Ludicrous. C.S. Lewis is using fiction to create an awareness of how demonic forces are mustered against us. There are plenty of other examples.

    My sister forbade her kids from anything Tolkien. Guess what? They're adults and they've seen them without her. No surprise there. None of them became wizards.

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